We caught up with one of our members, Ruth, to find out why she thinks education is so important to the co-operative movement and her motivation for joining us as a member.

Picture of Ruth Hall at the Rochdale Pioneers Museum

Having been a member of the College since 2017, Ruth knows only too well how crucial education is to the co-operative movement. “It is so important that it’s one of the co-operative principles!” comments Ruth, “Principle five acknowledges the need to understand, and educate, what being a co-op and a co-operator is about.” 

I wanted to be a member of an organisation that was actively spreading the word of co-ops and using co-operative education to help change lives

Indeed it’s this link to the principles that she thinks sits right at the heart of co-operatives, “To understand why they were created, why they are as relevant today and why we need co-ops in our lives and communities we need education to learn, grow and build co-ops. How can we be successful co-operators without the understanding of what our values and principles mean?”

The role of education

Education is also something Ruth sees as central to raising the profile of co-operatives and something that should be a key part of campaigns “We need education so that we can be campaigning co-ops and provide the best services for our members.” 

Her interest in the history and background of the co-operative movement was a big motivator for signing up as a member of the College too, “I became fascinated by the wider UK co-operative movement whilst working for The Co-operative Group and was elected to their National Members Council back in 2017. I love learning and on becoming aware of the College, I wanted to be a member of an organisation that was actively spreading the word of co-ops and using co-operative education to help change lives. I wanted to know that I was not just supporting a fundamental part of the co-operative movement by becoming a member, but also helping to secure its future financially. To not just sit back and be a silent co-operator, but instead active, well informed and participatory.” 

Ruth’s love of learning and continuing to develop as a person are huge motivating factors too, “For me it is about developing and growing as an individual and the ability to better support those around me. It is about understanding what has gone before and where we are heading, to have the skills and knowledge to actively share and participate.”

The benefits of membership

There are also other benefits from membership that Ruth mentions which might not seem clear to others at first, “It gives me confidence in myself and to push myself to be all I can be. I find power in knowledge and I gain this through education and learning.” 

These benefits are enhanced by being a member of the College, which allows Ruth to combine her passion for learning with helping communities all over the world, “By becoming a member, knowing I’m helping people rebuild their lives and improve their communities, regaining hope and faith in the world through co-operative education, is what being a co-operator is about. I am proud to be a co-operator.”

It's this pride that comes through particularly strongly when Ruth talks about her favourite things about College membership, “Being a member for me is about supporting the work of the College. I love hearing about the work the College is doing with its Youth Co-operative Action programme, inspiring young people and introducing them into the wonderful world of co-ops. The international work is amazing too, supporting the education system in countries all over the world and helping individuals to rebuild in a co-operative way. The conference and events produced are incredible opportunities to learn new things, partake in discussions and meet other co-operators. And of course, the College colleagues! They are an amazingly talented team, doing incredible work and make being a member a wonderful and rewarding experience. There are so many things to love about being a member.”

Our individual Membership starts from as little as £4 a month and offers a whole host of benefits including: 

  • 15% discount on a number of our products and services including workshops and our Online Anytime Short Courses
  • Join an amazing community of likeminded people and have your voice heard, directly influencing our future direction
  • Advance notice on news and events including exclusive member offers

This Co-op Fortnight, find out more about our membership and complete one of our most popular Online Anytime courses for free by visiting the page below.

View our Co-op Fortnight offer